Fragrant yellow blossoms in the dead of winter. That is what Arnold Promise witch hazel brings to our yard. The yellow blossoms give hope for the arrival of spring. The fragrance fills the air. And both of them bring us joy.
The wonderful smell of witch hazel is often a treat to winter hikers in the NC mountains since it grows wild here. But Arnold Promise is a bit different. Developed at Harvard University's Arnold Arboretum, it was established in 1928. A hybrid witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia) Arnold Promise can grow up to 20 feet tall.
Extract from boiling the bark, tender shoots, and roots of witch hazel make soothing ointments for rashes, cuts, abrasions and even hemorrhoids. Its astringent and soothing properties make it excellent for barber shops. (Remember the smell when you walked past the barbershops of old? That was likely witch hazel.)
But mostly, our Arnold Promise just makes us feel good.
February delight for the senses
We can see it through the library window and smell it all over the front yard.
Arnold Promise can be a bit difficult to find. It blooms in January-March, earlier than most nurseries ramp up for the spring season. When the blossoms fall off and before the leaves appear, it's something of an ugly duckling among the other blossoming spring trees. But it has lovely leaves, turning to a beautiful bright orange in the fall.
Try Arnold Promise if you live in USDA zones 5-9. It will deliver much joy to your winter. I promise.